The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition is a worldwide synthetic biology competition that was initially aimed at undergraduate university students, but has since expanded to include divisions for high school students, entrepreneurs, and community laboratories, as well as ‘overgraduates’.
Student teams are given a kit (so called ‘Distribution Kit’) of standard, interchangeable parts (so called ‘BioBricks‘) at the beginning of the summer from the Registry of Standard Biological Parts comprising various genetic components such as promoters, terminators, reporter elements, and plasmid backbones. Working at their local laboratories over the summer, they use these parts and new parts of their own design to build biological systems and operate them in living cells.
The teams are free to choose a project, which can build on previous projects or be new to iGEM. Successful projects produce cells that exhibit new and unusual properties by engineering sets of multiple genes together with mechanisms to regulate their expression.
At the annual ‘iGEM Jamboree’ teams from all continents meet in Boston for a scientific conference where they present their projects to each other and to a scientific jury of ~120 judges. The judges are awarding medals, special prizes to the teams and select a ‘Grand Prize Winner’ team as well as ‘Runner-Up’ teams in each division (High School, Undergraduate and Overgraduate).
I am actively developing the foundation, partnerships, sponsorships and relationships necessary between industry, academia and communities to build a sustainable presence at iGEM from our corner of the world.
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